An Iranian man has set himself on fire in an Australian refugee camp in Papua New Guinea in protest at being turned away from Australia. The 23-year-old man, whose name has not been made available, self-immolated during a visit by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the camp, and is thought to be in a critical condition, according to the Iranian resistance.
Refugee detention centres in Papua New Guinea are currently the cause of a row between the country and Australia, after PNG ruled on 26 April that 905 men detained on Manus Island were being held unconstitutionally.
The men were sent to Manus after attempting to gain entry to Australia, which is known for its strict and controversial immigration policy – sending refugees found in the sea near the country to be 'processed' in PNG, for which Australia bears the cost.
However, the two countries have now reached an impasse as neither wants to take responsibility for the men – and Australia has stated they will not be able to enter Australia after the detention centre closes. In addition, an offer from New Zealand to take 150 of the men has been rejected by Australia, which believes this will encourage more refugees to attempt to enter the country.
Around 800 refugees from Afghanistan and Iran are currently believed to be held at detention centres in Papua New Guinea, and the Iranian resistance has called for the UNHCR to take action.
In a statement, the National Council of Resistance of Iran asked that European member states and UNHCR "condemn Australia's ill-treatment of Iranian refugees and their expulsion from its soil in flagrant violation of international conventions and covenants and it further urges political parties and organizations defending refugee rights and human rights in Australia to rush to the aid of these refugees and prevent pressures brought upon them and their refoulement to Iran."